A number of the region's MPs have written to Newsquest and Gannett senior management. Many people will be aware of the letter which Stockton MP Alex Cunningham (a former chapel member and DST trainee) wrote to Craig Dubow - who passed it down to his chief skivvy Paul "20 per cent" Davidson to reply.
It would seem Mr Davidson either has no idea about what is going on at one of his newspapers, has no idea how newspapers work in general, is trying to mislead an MP or all of the above. Basically P Diddy Davidson told Mr Cunningham that no journalists were going in the redundancies at the Echo, you can imagine how the sub-editors, production editor, assistant editor and North Yorkshire reporter felt about that. It left a sour taste in the mouth to say the least - much like a £60 tannic bottle of wine.
Other honourable members to support us include Darlington's own Jenny Chapman. Not only has she signed the recent Early Day Motion expressing concern about Newsquest http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=42160 (along with North-East MPs Alex Cunningham and Roberta Blackman-Woods), she also mooted the suggestion that the Echo and DST would be better served being run as a community interest company. Interesting concept that. A newspaper being run for the benefit of its readership, with profits being ploughed back into maintaining a quality product and giving staff a living wage. Not sure P Diddy or Woolly Coates would get on board with that idea. I mean what about the shareholders or the bonuses. Can community interest companies give its execs jags to drive whilst laying off staff?
Also Darlington Trades Union Council is supporting our action tomorrow. We've already had messages of support from GMB and hopefully might see some of its members at the picket lines.
Cheers for now.
Oh, and here's those letters, first of all from Alex Cunningham:
Dear Mr Dubow,
I am extremely concerned at the latest round of job cuts which affect two newspappers that serve the people of my Stockton North constituency and the North-East of England. I hope you will personally intervene to ensure the integrity of those newspapers is not compromised.
Despite a profitable operation by your Newsquest company in the North-East, eight more journalists' jobs are being axed on top of the many we have seen in recent years - this at a time when I understand Newsquest's Chief Executive has seen a 21.5% rise in his salary and a substantial increase in his pension pot.
I don't know how well you know The Northern Echo and Darlington & Stockton Times. They are both well respected in the community and it is important that their quality journalism is protected and that we have journalists to report the news to the standard which year on year wins many prizes for high standards.
Working as a newspaper and radio journalist was my first career and I know there is no substitute for good reporters and writers on our local and regional newspapers. I hope you will act to protect what I am sure are gems in the crown of the Gannett empire.
I very much look forward to receiving a positive response to my letter.
Yours sincerely,Alex Cunningham MP
And Paul Davidson's response:
Dear Mr Cunningham,
Thank you for your letter of 15 December to Craig Dubow, CEO of Gannett. He has copied it to me to respond.
Firstly, may I thank you for your interest in the Northern Echo and Darlington & Stockton Times. I am glad that you regard them as well respected in their communities. That is, and will remain our goal for these titles and all of the newspapers in our portfolio.
I clearly don't know the source of your information regarding the planned restructuring of editorial resources in the region, but suspect you do not have the correct picture. We are creating a new sub-editing team to serve both our daily and weekly titles. This will improve flexibility and, we hope, quality. These positions are, in effect, production roles rather than journalist positions. Under employment legistlation, we have to notify all employees whose positions might be at risk of redundancy. This number is significantly higher in this case than the number of positions which will finally be redundant.Newsquest is proud of its products and brands and their place in the community. Please be assured that we will always strive to continue to serve these communities in the best way we can.Your sincerely